Incompetence still plagues the ruling PAP government despite their promises to make things better in their worst electoral performance in 2011.
Housing prices still going up
The PAP’s 2011 election promise made to ensure affordable public housing to Singaporeans has only worsen. Despite a series of property cooling measures introduced by the new Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan, HDB prices have continued its 11th year trend of increasing prices. According to the latest data published by the HDB, the sole indicator to track HDB prices, the Resale Price Index, increased 1.2% in the 4th quarter of 2012. There have been a number of “expectation management” political sales talk by the PAP though, with one by the Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam claiming a Singaporean with a $1000 paycheck could afford a HDB flat [Source]. That of course was responded with angry backlash from the public that several Ministers and PAP MPs had to step in to back Tharman’s claim.
The latest “un-PAP” measure(the word “free” is not in the PAP’s dictionary) to manage overcrowding is to provide free train rides before the morning peak hour. Although the move was welcomed by many, the overcrowding situation in the public transport is so bad that giving incentives to passengers could not even ease the overcrowding issue. Frustrations and negative sentiments are largely stemmed from the worsening state of public transport. Private transport has also became a non-option with COE prices breaking record and with the latest car population control policies, the COE became unbalanced(small car buyers pay more COE taxes than large cars buyers).
Propaganda, censorship and media control
Leslie Chew of Demon-cratic Singapore was arrested. Richard of Temasek Review was sent 2 letters of demands by the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his brother. Former Temasek Review editor Joseph Ong was investigated for electoral-related charges. Singapore’s mainstream media’s independence ranking dropped further from 139th to 149th, clearly proving that the PAP’s intolerance for dissent has only delved deeper.
Breaking down of infrastructure
Flash floods and train breakdowns continue to persist and increased in frequency as compared to the past. Recently, there have also been cases of unprecedented phenomenons like sink holes appearing in Singapore roads. Hospitals have also seen a “bed crunch” and the average waiting time in polyclinics are getting longer.
Overcrowding tops Singaporeans’ list of concerns today. It is apparent the existing set up can not support the present 5.31 million population, and when the Population White Paper by the PAP claimed a 6.9 million population was the target, Singaporeans responded with a massive outcry. A protest was conducted in April and more than 5000 Singaporeans turned up for the event – very untypical of the usually self-subduing behavior of Singaporeans. The population continues to increase today at a “slower rate”, and the eventual social result is a rising anti-foreigner sentiment brewing among Singaporeans. Coupled with a government-controlled workers union, the influx of foreign labor have benefited local businesses who conveniently take full advantage by exploiting foreign labor, depressing manpower costs(salaries) and giving lesser HR benefits to workers.
More elderly are selling their HDB flats for a retirement, or simply going to the streets touting tissue papers for a living. The CPF annuity was introduced to patch the retirement loophole, however, the calculations were flawed with payouts not inflation-hedged and some people with very low CPF saving getting as low as $170 a month for retirement.
Singapore’s high cost of medical bills is largely resulted from PAP’s anti-welfare “you-die-your-business” stance. The percentage of the GDP spent on healthcare in Singapore, is one of the lowest in the world at 4% of the GDP, or a quarter that of the United States. This has prompted former Nominated Member of Parliament Dr Kalwaljit Soin blasting the PAP government for making Singaporeans pay too high for “out-of-pocket expenses” and denouncing the “much vaunted 3M” system(Medisave, Medishield and Medifund) for only representing 10% of the patients’ total healthcare expenditures. She also criticized the PAP for misplacing their priorities in their annual Budget, especially on the record Defense Budget:
”We can afford to spend more on defence, other things, but you have to look at health. Otherwise, what are you defending? You are defending sickly people,”
Final Grading: F9
None of Singaporeans’ basic necessities have been met, let alone talk about expectations. What the PAP has done so far is to manage public perceptions through the use of propaganda, lawsuits and fake feedback sessions called the “Singapore Conversation”.They deserve a F9 for politiking and not solving problems. It remains unknown if 60% of the Singaporeans will continue to be fooled by the PAP with old problems mounting and new problems surfacing.